Washington Building Trades Support Millennium’s Longview Project

Expanding the job market should be one of Washington’s top priorities. That’s why it’s encouraging to see organizations in our state standing up for trade infrastructure projects that will provide opportunities to thousands of people. At its 2017 Convention, the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council demonstrated its commitment to projects that will generate family-wage jobs in our state by passing a resolution declaring support for Millennium’s proposed export terminal in Longview.

The Washington Building Trades advance the needs of working people by coordinating efforts between local unions and other allies to establish a unified voice for building trades workers and ensure safe and equitable labor practices. The council understands the value of strong infrastructure projects like Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview and “pledges to continue to work in all possible ways for the successful permitting and construction” of the facility.

Millennium President and CEO Bill Chapman expressed encouragement and gratitude for the Washington Building Trades’ endorsement. “Millennium appreciates the Washington Building Trades’ continuous support and are honored that their membership reasserted their commitment to our project. The hard work and dedication of the Washington Building Trades is helping advance the growth of our region and state, especially where unemployment is still high in Southwest Washington. We look forward to having the men and women of labor unions on our job site soon,” he said.

This resolution reflects the way Millennium strives to ensure mutual benefit for local communities in all its business practices. The company will employ 2,600 people to build the terminal, and has committed to using union labor to complete the project in a safe and ethical manner. Upon completion, the terminal will sustain 300 family-wage jobs, greatly expanding opportunity in Cowlitz County. The Washington Building Trades’ resolution also emphasized several of the terminal’s other benefits, including the $37.2 million in state tax revenue and $5.9 million in county tax revenue it will generate annually.

Mike Bridges, president, Longview/Kelso Building Trades, IBEW Local 48, highlighted the local excitement behind Millennium’s project. “Longview is a working-class town built on the natural resources industry with a deep-water port on the Columbia River,” he said. “Millennium is a transformational project. They will breathe new life into our historically industrial community – and they have already taken considerable steps to prove they deserve our support.”

The Washington Building Trades’ resolution in support of Millennium affirms that citizens of Washington understand and value the positive impact the Longview terminal will have on the surrounding communities. After more than five years of intense review, during which the Washington Building Trades say Millennium has “gone above and beyond the local, state, and federal requirements,” it’s time to put people to work building a safe, efficient facility. Hopefully, this resolution will remind the rest of the state – especially regulators who have been dragging their feet – just how valuable this project is to the working people of Longview.

Read the full resolution here.

Permits for Trade Infrastructure Projects Bring Washington Closer to Growth

Washington’s approval process for industrial projects often creates steep barriers to growth, but recently there’s been progress in the right direction. Last month, Northwest Innovation Works (NIW) received several necessary permits for their methanol plant in Kalama, which would create 200 full-time jobs. That development has been under review for three years, but other projects have been waiting even longer. After five years of extensive environmental analysis, Millennium Bulk Terminals recently received the first permit for its Longview coal terminal.

Issuance of the permit is an important milestone for the project after years of delay. Throughout an arduous review process, Millennium has gone above and beyond to demonstrate how it will exceed the state’s stringent environmental standards. It’s encouraging to see the state recognize Millennium’s dedication to creating a safe, sustainable jobs for the working families of Longview.

Despite all obstacles, Millennium remains determined to create a state-of-the-art facility. “Today this project took another significant step forward. We are absolutely delighted to see the agencies begin permit issuance based on their extensive Environmental Impact Statement,” Millennium CEO and President Bill Chapman said.

Millennium’s project is a great fit for our state. Building the Longview coal terminal will employ 2,650 people, ultimately creating 300 permanent jobs. That means Millennium will pour $65 million in wages into our state annually. The terminal will also generate over $37 million in tax revenue every year, empowering leaders to improve their communities.

However, none of this can happen unless the state acts in the best interest of its citizens.

According to The Daily News in Longview, the DOE “continues to make up new standards along the way,” enforcing restrictions on energy projects that other developments don’t have to follow. This repeated discrimination against crucial energy infrastructure is setting a precedent against growth in Washington, and diminishing our ability to compete for investment.

The state must do more to advance projects that spur economic growth, and review all proposals with expediency and fair standards. If Washington wants to help communities thrive, the DOE will continue issuing permits for crucial projects that meet our state’s high standards.

Read the full piece from The Daily News here.

Millennium Project Will Generate Nearly $6 Million in Annual Tax Revenue

Recently, the state Department of Ecology (DOE) requested that Millennium Bulk Terminals resubmit its water quality certification permit for the export terminal project proposed for Longview. Millennium President and CEO Bill Chapman said the resubmission won’t significantly delay the project which has been under review by the state and federal authorities for more than five years.

So what does this delay cost? A recent article in The Daily News suggested that by dragging its feet, the DOE is preventing growth in the Longview job market, diminishing U.S. export capacity, and denying $5.4 million in state and local tax revenue to communities who need it.

The bottom line is that Millennium is eager to invest in Washington and committed to meeting the state’s stringent environmental safety standards. In its resubmitted application, the company shortened its proposed dock on the Columbia River by 142 feet, reducing the amount of sand dredged for the project by 150,000 cubic yards. “Our goal has always been to minimize our environmental footprint and we are successfully doing that as we get into the design details,” Mr. Chapman said.

Citizens interested in voicing their support for the project can submit comments here. We encourage you to take moment to make your voice heard by supporting this effort to grow our job market.

Playing Favorites: Discriminatory Regulation Hurts Washington Rail Industry

In the recent Washington Department of Ecology environmental review of the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals project in Longview, the state concluded that additional freight train traffic to the project could potentially pose a cancer risk to local communities as a result of diesel particulate matter.

This analysis is troubling for several reasons, all of which the Alliance outlined in great detail here and here when the final environmental review was release in April. Shortly after that document was released, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced a new passenger rail project in Seattle. The hang up? The locomotives going to Millennium and the ones to be used in Seattle have virtually identical emissions profiles. The only difference is the cargo.

The following infographic outlines the hypocrisy of the state picking rail winners and losers based on the commodity being transported.

See the infographic here.

 

Bridges & Wallin: Longview’s Critical Need for Growth

The Washington state establishment has done everything it can to ignore the benefits of putting people to work on a new export terminal on the Columbia River. Amid the state’s concern about regulating emissions in other countries, it has lost sight of the amazing impact a new export terminal would have on one of its own counties.

Many groups have highlighted the economic boost this terminal will bring to the state, or the environmental advantages of providing Powder River Basin coal to nations whose energy demand will continue to grow and utilize coal as a fossil fuel. The development will also remove 219,000 tons of neglected material from the riverfront. However, the state hasn’t just been neglecting these important considerations.

The Department of Ecology has refused to recognize the crucial jobs market growth this project will bring to the Longview community.

Recently, Longview city councilman Mike Bridges and labor leader Mike Wallin authored commentary in the Seattle Times explaining southwest Washignton’s compelling interest in supporting the Millennium Bulk Terminals project on the Columbia River. “Without the tech boom that Seattle has enjoyed, our community has had to look for other economic opportunities that play to our strengths as an industrial community with access to major trade routes,” they wrote.

People who aren’t from Longview shouldn’t assume they know what’s best for the community. “We know what it means to live in a manufacturing town,” Bridges and Wallin explained, “And we support Millennium Bulk Terminals and its project in Longview because we know what it will do for us locally, and for the end-users globally of the products it plans to ship through the port.”

The authors explained Longview’s urgent need to grow employment rates and give working people a fair chance to provide for their families. “Our friends and colleagues in Longview know what’s at stake with this proposal: our future, and our children’s future.”

Read the full editorial here.

The Daily News Criticizes State’s Inequitable Treatment of Energy Projects

The Daily News published a striking editorial last week, criticizing the Department of Ecology’s (DOE) unprecedented review of Millennium Bulk Terminals’ project in Longview. The article cast significant doubt on DOE’s motivations, and highlighted disturbing anti-growth bias in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“From the start of the permitting process, the state Department of Ecology was against the Millennium project,” they wrote. “Anytime it takes five years to get a final environmental impact statement completed it’s pretty clear the state dragged its feet at every turn.” This tedious delay is just one way the state has been impeding the project and undermining economic growth.

The editorial also illustrated how “the state changed the rules in the middle of the game” by requiring Millennium to mitigate 100 percent of foreign emissions on its exports, instead of the 50 percent mitigation required in the original EIS draft. The authors explained the inequity of this mandate, noting that no other local industry is so harshly regulated. Punishing businesses who provide fuel puts them on unequal footing with companies that aren’t required to mitigate foreign emissions.

The state must make decisions based on the rule of law, not on extralegal, personal ideologies. For our economy to thrive, the state must treat all development proposals with consistent respect for the law. Unpredictable decisions like this create uncertainty in the market, driving away companies who want to bring jobs to our state.

Read the full editorial here.

Increased Demand for Coal in Southeast Asia

As nations in Southeast Asia continue to establish their economies, grow their populations, and enter new industries, these countries will undoubtedly need a large source of reliable electricity to accomplish their goals. For an exporter like Washington with long standing trade relationships with our political allies throughout the region, it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that demand for energy in Southeast Asia could skyrocket over the next two decades with the Southeast Asian region being 78% reliant on fossil fuels by 2040. In fact, coal is projected to overtake oil as the most consumed fuel in the region.  For a number of reasons this transfer from oil to coal for producing electricity is a new positive for the region and presents a massive opportunity in one of the world’s most promising markets.

The IEA report forecasts a strong, sustained rise in demand for coal from many nations to which Washington already maintains trade relationships. This report suggests a rapidly growing market that could generate a huge opportunity for U.S. exporters and subsequently the thousands of Americans they employ. But others will seek to pursue this opening. According to a 2016 report from the Journal of Eurasian Studies, coal is also Russia’s top exporting prospect for Southeast Asia. Along with countries like Indonesia, regional competitors such as Russia will be happy to capitalize on this demand.

Unlike overseas suppliers, Washington will export coal from the Powder River Basin. As we have written in the past, PRB coal is sub-bituminous meaning it contains lower levels of SO2 than other coals, like those found in Appalachia or even in China.  Abundant in Montana and Wyoming, it is a cleaner alternative to what Asian consumers currently utilize.

 

Longview Councilman Joins Lars Larson to Discuss Local Support for MBT in Spite of Ecology’s Overreach

One of Washington’s top radio voices, Lars Larson, invited Longview City Councilman Mike Wallin to his show to discuss the Millennium Bulk Terminals project. Their conversation centered around the Department of Ecology’s recent Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) findings and its controversial implications.

“Just so people understand this, the Millennium Bulk Terminal would create 2,650 jobs and generate $5.4 million in annual tax revenue in Cowlitz County alone,” Larson noted. However, not everyone recognizes these benefits. In its SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) review, the WA Department of Ecology is attempting to mandate that Millennium mitigate 100 percent of the GHG emissions associated with the use of coal that is just moving through the Millennium project.

“They’re setting a dangerous precedent for all industry coming to Washington state,” Wallin said. “If they have their way, none of these industries will ever be built in our state again.”

Councilman Wallin continued by highlighting that the Department of Ecology’s overreaching and new use of the state’s SEPA power would have much broader implications well beyond Millennium, pointing out how outlandish it would be for Washington to start requiring aircraft manufacturers like Boeing to mitigate their foreign emissions or end use of the product that they manufacture in the state.

“The Department of Ecology has a jurisdictional boundary of Washington state, not the rest of our country, not global jurisdiction,” Wallin said. He explained that the state’s real motivation for this inappropriate review was to “shut the project down,” regardless of its economic benefits. Although Washington has no authority to regulate overseas emissions, Ecology is attempting to overextend its powers with SEPA to impede the Longview project.

However, Wallin remains hopeful that the effort to bring real growth to Washington will prevail. He thinks of the terminal project as a constructive way to clean up a languishing industrial site. “We can take something that’s worthless and create jobs and opportunity and hope for people to go back to work providing for themselves,” he said.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

State penalizes Millennium with unprecedented SEPA findings

Unprecedented SEPA ruling sets bad precedent for trade, exports and jobs

SEATTLE — Washington state is closed for business – unless regulators are comfortable with the commodity or product.

That’s essentially what the Washington State Department of Ecology told Millennium Bulk Terminals today when it ruled the company would have to mitigate for 100% of the emissions generated by overseas use of coal exported through Longview.

Mariana Parks, spokeswoman for the Alliance, offered the following statement in the wake of today’s decision:

“This is use of a state regulatory policy to police the use of products outside of Washington state is simply unheard of. We don’t penalize farmers for agricultural products used in foreign markets, or aerospace manufacturers. But because it’s coal, state polices are being used to enforce the end-use of products around the globe. It’s unprecedented, and telegraphs the wrong message about doing business in Washington state.

As the most trade-dependent state in the country, where one in three jobs is tied to trade, you would expect a more level-headed approach to the regulatory process. This is purely a political decision, and unfortunately, the people of Southwest Washington are being made to pay for it. We’re talking about nearly 3,000 new jobs that would be created with this project and millions in new annual tax revenue, for schools, roads and public safety.

Washington state has the most stringent environmental regulations in the country. So it begs the question, why not build this project here, where we can ensure the product will be handled safely from start to finish? It also gives us pause as we look at the continued economic uncertainty in places like Kelso and Longview, where unemployment rates barely fluctuate below seven percent. What are we doing to help these people and grow jobs in their community? Imagine what 3,000 new jobs would do for a community like Longview.

Millennium Bulk Terminals is committed to building this project right. They’ve already demonstrated their commitment to redeveloping the former Alcoa smelter, spending millions on environmental cleanup of a site that would otherwise still be in distress. Millennium is located in an existing industrial area, it has taken all the steps — jumped through all the regulatory hoops — and the state continues to move the goal line for permits.

Today’s SEPA announcement is a disappointment and a frightening example of the kind of regulatory overreach at play in our state. It’s very disheartening and does not project the right tone for future employers looking to cite a business here in Washington state.”